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A field recorder for real life

When you're tired of the studio

As strange a concept as it may seem, some people actually want to record sounds in real-life conditions on occasion. An odd thing indeed in a world where practically everything is manufactured, tweaked and refined digitally (for better or worse).

But how do you keep your work from sounding like the cassette tape remixes we did in high school? The answer may be the "Zoom H4 Handy Recorder" from zZounds. Red Ferret says this "pretty cool piece of field recording gear" can record up to 380 minutes in CD quality and 34 hours in MP3 stereo mode. The $300 Zoom H4 runs on only two AA batteries, which can be good and bad--good because they're easy to replace, bad because they don't give you the most juice for continuous recording when you're on a roll.

Most important, be careful before sticking this in someone's face to record them. It could easily be mistaken for a Taser--which could result in more real-life experience than you bargained for.